ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs plan to play Patrick Mahomes and the rest of their starters for the first half of their preseason game in Arizona, where they were last seen walking off the field hoisting their second Lombardi Trophy in four years.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said upon wrapping up training camp at Missouri Western on Thursday that the starters would get the first half and backups would split the second half. That’s in line with what Reid has done since the league trimmed the preseason to three games and is designed to help Mahomes and the rest of his guys get ready for the speed of the regular season.
“They have to get ready for the game,” Reid said ahead of Saturday night’s game against the Cardinals, “and at the same time, I think it’s tough going into the first game — the first regular-season game. It’s going to be fast, much faster than you can present in practice. So this is at least another step up from that, another kick up speed-wise to the game.”
Mahomes and the starters played only one series in their preseason opener in New Orleans, putting together a promising drive that ultimately stalled near midfield on a failed fourth-and-short conversion attempt. The second preseason game is closer to a dress rehearsal for their Sept. 7 opener against Detroit, which is why Mahomes will play into the second quarter.
Nevertheless, Reid acknowledged a balancing act between preparing for the season and the risk of injury in a preseason game.
“That’s all part of the game,” he said.
The Chiefs need look no further than last season’s playoffs for proof that injuries can happen suddenly.
Mahomes was twisted to the turf in the divisional round against Jacksonville, sustaining a high ankle sprain that he had to manage the rest of their Super Bowl run; he even aggravated it in the championship win over Philadelphia, limping through most of the second half.
Even if Mahomes doesn’t necessarily need the preseason reps, the rest of the Chiefs offense probably does.
They allowed both of their starting offensive tackles to leave in free agency, and Jawaan Taylor and Donovan Smith are still getting comfortable as the replacements. They also lost veteran wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman, which means the Chiefs could lean heavily on two players yet to take a regular-season snap in Rashee Rice and Justyn Ross.
“I thought those guys got better and better (in camp),” Mahomes said of his wide receivers Thursday. “They learned how to finish and keep that mentality throughout practice. They have a lot of talent but you have to learn how to be consistent every day, and I thought they got better and better at that as they went.”
Mahomes also was pleased with the way Taylor and Smith have worked with perhaps the league’s best interior offensive line, anchored by Pro Bowl center Creed Humphrey with guards Joe Thuney and Trey Smith on either side of him.
“The offensive line did a great job throughout camp just battling,” Mahomes said.
Mahomes was asked Thursday how he would feel stepping on the field in Arizona, where the Chiefs rallied to beat the Eagles in February. But in typical fashion, Mahomes preferred to talk about what the Chiefs must do to get back to the Super Bowl, rather than look back on winning his second championship ring.
“We have a lot of stuff we have to continue to work on,” Mahomes said. “I said it after the ring ceremony, ‘That’s it.’ We’re going to go back and try to get another one.”
NOTES: Reid said the Chiefs have checked on the playing surface in Arizona, which has a history of problems, and were told that “it’s gripping well.” Chiefs DB Trent McDuffie and K Harrison Butker were hurt playing their regular-season opener on the same field last season. … Chiefs DT Chris Jones continued his holdout through the entire portion of camp in St. Joseph, Missouri, getting fined $50,000 for each day he has missed. “When he gets in,” Reid said, “he’s going to have to get caught up.” … CB Nic Jones (hand), WR Nikko Remigio (shoulder), CB L’Jarius Sneed (knee), WR Kadarius Toney (knee), DT Turk Wharton (knee) and OL Nick Allegretti (shoulder) did not participate in practice Thursday.
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